Last update: Fri, 27 May 2016 09am

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Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Thursday said that the killing of Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike has undermined the Afghan peace process and bilateral consultations are being made with US, China and Afghanistan to assess the situation. Officially confirming the death of Mullah Mansour after five days, Aziz told media briefing that his death in a drone strike on 21st May, which probably originated from Afghanistan, has added to the complexity of the Afghan conflict.
Oil prices hit $50 a barrel on Thursday for the first time in seven months, then bounced below that level and settled lower on the day as investors worried robust price gains could encourage more output and add to the global glut. Wildfires in Canada's oil sands, unrest in the Nigerian and Libyan energy sectors, and a near economic meltdown in Opec member Venezuela have knocked out nearly 4 million barrels per day in immediate production, sparking a buying frenzy in crude futures.
The rupee managed to hold firm trend against the dollar on the money market on Thursday, dealer said. The rupee did not move sharply against the dollar for buying and selling at Rs 104.80 and Rs 104.82 respectively, dealer said.
The government would announce relief measures in budget (2016-17), including tax relief on the import of vitamins/minerals and micronutrients, increase threshold for cottage industry for exemption from sales tax from Rs 5 million to Rs 10 million and further tax exemption on the imported second hand and worn clothing from next fiscal year.
Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting on Thursday to review the reasons for shortfall in cotton production and also to devise short and medium term plans for increasing production. The Minister expressed concern that shortfall in cotton crop this year has eroded GDP growth rate for the year by 0.5 percent. He urged the relevant government organisations to investigate reasons for shortfall in production of cotton and to co-ordinate efforts for a comprehensive roadmap for achieving higher cotton production in future.
Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that the government is negotiating with Italian oil/gas giant Eni to import 0.75 million tons of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Talking to a group of media persons here on Thursday while participating in the 25th ceremony of Austrian Oil and Gas Exploration and Production (E&P) company OMV Pakistan, he said that the ENI will supply 6 LNG ships per annum to Pakistan.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to return on May 28 from London to preside over a tentatively scheduled meeting of National Economic Council (NEC) on May 30 to approve development outlay and growth targets for the next fiscal year. When contacted, an official of Prime Minister's Office said that Prime Minister may return tomorrow (Friday) night. The government intends to celebrate May 28 to commemorate the nuclear tests undertaken in 1998 when Nawaz Sharif was Prime Minister.